Manipur: Journalist, Activist Arrested for Facebook Posts After BJP Leader's Death

Kishorechandra Wangkhem and Erendro Leichombam were critical of BJP leaders who propagated cow dung and cow urine as a cure for COVID-19.

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has earned a reputation for pressing criminal charges against its critics across the country, has now filed a complaint against an Imphal-based journalist and an activist over their Facebook posts. The two have also been arrested.

The Manipur police, on Thursday evening, arrested Kishorechandra Wangkhem and activist Erendro Leichombam from their homes, after it received a complaint from the BJP general secretary P. Premananda Meetei and BJP vice-president Usham Deban. The complaint alleged that Wanghkem and Leichombam’s Facebook posts insulted Manipur BJP president Saikhom Tikendra Singh, who succumbed to COVID-19 on Thursday.

“An FIR was lodged against them under section 153-A (promoting enmity between groups)/505(b)(2) (making statement with an intent to incite and cause mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the duo will remain in police custody till May 17,” Eastmojo, an online news portal, reported.

Following the BJP president’s death, Wangkhem wrote on his Facebook page, “Santhi Sanyung na yadrabo, oh!!! RIP #Rashikang_Kangyet Hayeng nga chaani.” (Rough translation: Cow dung cow urine didn’t work. Groundless argument. Tomorrow I will eat fish.)

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The well-known political activist Leichombam expressed his condolences over the BJP leader’s death while also hitting out at some of the party leaders’ advocacy on cow urine and cow dung to treat COVID on his Facebook wall: “The cure for Corona is not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense. Professor ji RIP.”

BJP leader Tikendra died because of COVID-19-related complications at Imphal’s Shija Hospital.

This is the third time Wangkhem has been arrested. He earlier spent time in prison in two different cases. Even before, the BJP-led government in Manipur had pressed charges of sedition under the National Security Act (NSA) and for “promoting enmity between different groups through a social media post”.

Leichombam, convener of Manipur-based political party People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), was also booked by Manipur police earlier on charges of sedition over a Facebook comment last year. He was also arrested in 2018 after he posted a critical comment and video against the BJP-led government in the state.